Posted on: January 24, 2012 6:18 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 12:36 am

The Eagle Returns to Make Sense(?) of the NCAA

I can't believe it's been almost 6 months from my last entry and massive MLS/USA soccer binge. This is what happens when work/school/life take over for several months. That and I think I blacked out after that USA-Mexico game for like a month or so...whatever, moving on.

Last week I read three stories that absolutely boggled my mind. And I just wanted to make sure that if I put my thoughts down on paper (or the internet) that I wasn’t crazy. So here it goes…let’s see if I remember how to write these things…

Okay, last week I read several articles based around NCAA student-athletes and their recruiting/transfer processes. Two of them are similar, yet different. Todd O’Brien, a reserve center for the St. Joe’s Hawks, graduated from St. Joseph’s and attempted to gain a waiver to play basketball as a graduate student at UAB. However, one of the conditions of this waiver is that St. Joseph’s must also sign off on the waiver, and for reasons that St. Joseph’s won’t go into for “privacy reasons,” they have denied O’Brien his waiver and it is doubtful that he will play for UAB. The NCAA also denied O’Brien a waiver to play this season which basically means that O’Brien is done as an NCAA student-athlete.

But if that wasn’t stupid enough, I can do better.

Brock Berglund is a former QB at Kansas, who was one of ten players dismissed from the team by new coach Charlie Weis. Berglund was told that he would be competing for a back-up spot behind incoming Notre Dame transfer Dayne Crist, who got a waiver from ND (the same one St. Joe’s wouldn’t give Todd O’Brien) to play immediately and Berglund asked Kansas for permission to talk to other schools about a possible transfer, something all students-athletes cannot do without their school’s permission. Kansas denied his request and also told him that he would not be released from his scholarship, even though Berglund only asked for permission to talk to schools, not actually transfer. Berglund was then booted off the team for apparently missing a mandatory team meeting. Since his dismissal, Berglund has not been granted his release from Kansas.

I have the perfect solution for the NCAA, not that they’d listen to me. Since neither player has been released from their scholarship, I think that both players should be counted towards the program’s student-athlete scholarship numbers, i.e. 85 for football and 13 for basketball. Without knowledge of the Kansas football or St. Joe’s basketball scholarship players on the roster, for the sake of this blog, I will assume they are full. Since we’re already midseason in basketball, if St. Joe’s technically has 14 players on their roster (counting O’Brien), they should be penalized one scholarship for next season. Since Kansas hasn’t finalized their roster for the 2012 NCAA Football season due to ongoing recruiting, if Berglund
hasn’t been released from his scholarship by the end of the academic semester (sometime in May), then he should count towards Weis’ roster for 2012. If Kansas is over their limit with Berglund, they should also lose a scholarship for their next season starting in 2013.

C’mon people, this is stupid. Hundreds of players transfer from schools every year and nearly all of them go off without a hitch. These are young men who are penalized one year of eligibility for these transfers when coaches are fired and change jobs without penalty on a regular basis. A school should not be able to deny a transfer to a player that has graduated or wishes to leave the program during a coaching change. Incoming
freshman de-commit from schools on a regular basis when there is a coaching change. They also can de-commit quite frankly for any reason they want to, which is why I love this next story.

Gunner Kiel, one of the best QB prospects in the country and one of the best names in QB history as well, recently committed and enrolled at Notre Dame for the spring semester. Normally, not that big of a story, but since he had verbal/soft commits to Indiana and LSU in the past
months, he’s been getting a lot of press. Dennis Dodd is sticking up for Kiel, and saying that anyone who questions his commitment due to his number of de-commits is crazy. Couldn’t agree more. And I’m not saying that because I don’t miss a chance to stick it to the NCAA, but because Kiel is free to pick whatever school he wants and should be allow to make that decision without backlash from schools and media. Why ESPN, CBS and other major media outlets waste time on recruiting stories is beyond me, but like the “Hot Stove” of MLB (something else I largely avoid), recruiting season gives college sports writers something to do between bowl season and spring practice besides college basketball.

Look, great for Gunner for picking a school and program that he wanted to go to and I hope he gets a chance to stick to LSU and every
and anyone else at some point during his playing career. As for St. Joe’s basketball team and Kansas’ football teams, I really hope that karma exists. Because these kids are making millions for your schools, the least you could do is put them ahead of your bottom line.

UPDATE -- Jan. 24, 11:10PM -- Former Kansas QB Brock Berglund has hired an attorney in his quest to be released from his scholarship at Kansas. Berglund's appeals meeting with the Kansas Univ. student athlete appeals board on Friday.

Posted on: February 22, 2011 11:46 pm

How Calhoun, UConn Got Off "Easy"

I’m not really a fan of all this talk about Jim Calhoun and the University of Connecticut Men’s Basketball program getting off with a lenient sentence from the NCAA today. And no, I’m not being a homer, I’m dead serious, I don’t get it. For the record, this is not about the players the NCAA regularly screws (see K-State’s Jacob Pullen), this is strictly about a coach, a program and a school. And I don’t see what’s wrong with the punishments handed out today.

Why? Because, I’m actually going to try and figure out exactly what Jim Calhoun and UConn did during this whole disaster involving Nate Miles.

First, there’s this former student manager turned agent Josh Nochimson, who is being sued former Husky Richard Hamilton for allegedly stealing $1 million from him when he was his personal assistant. Why is he talking to a HS recruit in the first place? Anyway, he is talking to Miles and apparently giving him a bunch of free stuff, huge NCAA no-no. In return for free stuff, Miles looks at UConn, where an asst. coach and basketball staffer have been in regular contact with Nochimson (another huge no-no). Why is anyone talking to this agent guy anyway? And why is AD Jeff Hathaway and the UConn Compliance Department fallen asleep at the wheel? And why hasn’t Calhoun just ditched this kid and his baggage?

Okay, so Miles gets dismissed from the school, the two UConn basketball staffers/coaches resign because they apparently misled/lied to the NCAA and all while Calhoun isn’t “promoting an atmosphere of compliance?” Let’s read off the list of things gone wrong during Calhoun’s tenure as UConn basketball coach.

1996 – NCAA Tournament appearance forfeited after two players accepted plane tickets from an agent.

That’s it. That’s the list. And let’s run down Connecticut’s history of major NCAA violations:

2010 – Nate Miles Recruitment

This is UConn’s first major violation. EVER. For all sports. Somehow I think an “atmosphere of compliance” is generally associated with UConn and its athletic programs. And perhaps I’m wrong about this and there’s some obscure violation that Google can’t find. Please post it below, I’d love to read about it.

There are reports that Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl is about to get slammed by the NCAA. Why? Because he had a recruit over at his house during a barbecue, which honestly doesn’t sound all that bad since he ended up playing somewhere else. Oh, wait, Pearl lied about it to the NCAA. Yikes…um…that’s not good. And a quick Google of “Tennessee Vols NCAA Violations” turns up not only Pearl’s story but multiple stories about their football program, especially during Lane Kiffin’s brief tenure.

You see, it’s not just Pearl on trial with the NCAA but Tennessee as well. The NCAA sees Jim Calhoun, a coach with nary a violation on his resume, certainly not a major one, and a school with a history of doing things the right way. That’s why I think Calhoun and UConn got off “easy” because first time offenders usually do.

At the end of the day, the UConn Men’s Basketball program screwed up. And Calhoun might be the captain of that ship, but there is plenty of blame to go around here to people at UConn, formerly associated with UConn and outside the program as well. Is this a learning experience for Calhoun and UConn, absolutely. And if that experience doesn’t keep the UConn Huskies out of the NCAA proverbial doghouse, then you’ll see the punishments start flying.

Look, I understand the NCAA has a very difficult job. I’m sure that the NCAA and its member schools (for the most part) are not trying to commit violations, but understandably they will happen. But it is how schools and the people associated with them handle the situation is just as important as what the violation is. Do I think Calhoun and UConn handled it perfectly? Probably not.

But how many more sanctions do you want for a recruiting violation against a school where the recruit never played a game for the school? Had Miles not gotten kicked off campus and played for the Huskies, I’d be crushing Calhoun and Jeff Hathaway right now and probably writing about a multiple year post-season ban for the UConn Huskies. Right now, I hope that Hathaway, Calhoun and the rest of the UConn Athletic Dept. are working tirelessly to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Especially in the next three years.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 16, 2010 3:01 pm
Edited on: March 16, 2010 3:22 pm

Mid-Majors Revolt Against NCAA

Yesterday I gave my first impression of the NCAA Tournament and teams that were snubbed and got hosed by the NCAA selection committee. Naturally, the Duke fans aren't happy that I called the South Region "easier" than say, the Midwest. Also, naturally, they are upset with me. So what else is new.

But now, I'm picking a long standing bone with the NCAA. Normally, I would complain that the selection committee didn't include enough mid-major teams in the at-large teams. This year, with 8 teams from non-power conferences, I can't do that. But I can complain about who those mid-majors consistently play: other mid-majors.

Don't believe me? Here are the all mid-major first round games that shouldn't have happened: [8] UNLV vs. [9] UNI; [5] Temple vs. [12] Cornell; [5] Butler vs. [12] UTEP; [7] Richmond vs. [10] St. Mary's.

Here are all "power" conference matchups that could easily be moved to solve this problem I have: [8] Texas vs. [9] Wake Forest; [7] OK St. vs. [10] GA Tech; [7] Clemson vs. [10] Mizzou; [8] Cal vs. [9] L'Ville.

Well, look at that! Four games each! Two of the games even have the same seeds! Well that should be easy enough to fix, let's switch the teams. To fix the other two, demote the ACC teams and give Cornell and UTEP 10-seeds, just because I'm in an ACC bashing mood.
Ok, all kidding aside, I actually agree with some of those games listed above, especially the Texas-Wake game. But that's not the point. In 2009, I thought the tournament committee did a pretty good job at avioding all-mid major games, mainly because there weren't any mid-majors. In 2009, Xavier-Portland St. as a 4-13 game is hardly cause for concern.

2008? Not so much, with games between Butler-S. Alabama (7-10), UNLV-Kent St. (8-9), Gonzaga-Davidson (7-10), Drake-WKU (5-12).
2007? Ditto, Butler-ODU (5-12), S. Illinois-Holy Cross (4-13), BYU-Xavier (8-9), Nevada-Creighton (7-10)

One of the great things about the NCAA tournament is seeing mid-majors pulling for upsets against higher seeded, power conference teams, especially in the 5-12 game. Three out of the past four years a limited number of mid-majors who gain bids are beating each other in the first round. The cream of the NCAA crop will rise to the top in the Elite 8 and later rounds. But until then, I want to see the WKUs, Davidsons and George Masons making Sweet 16, Elite 8 and Final Four runs against big conference teams. We've seen the mid-majors play each other this season, it's called BracketBusters and conference regular seasons.

That's not say that the NCAA tournament committee doesn't give put mid-majors against power teams. But if you exclude New Mexico as a three seed and Gonzaga on principle, then the best games by seed would be BYU-Florida (7-10), Tennessee-SDSU (6-11), Notre Dame-ODU (6-11) and Wisconson-Wofford (4-13) in each region. While I don't mind these games, there aren't enough games on the 8-9 or 7-10 level that could be great matchups.

I know the tournament committee has a tremendous job to do and again, for the most part, there isn't all that much to complain about. But being from a mid-major school I always root for the little guys during the first weekend of March Madness. I don't care if it kills my brackets, because it's fun to watch and it is much more interesting than watching a couple of mediocre ACC and Big 12 teams battle it out.

All that I really am asking for is to avoid all mid-major games at the 8/9 and 7/10 levels when possible, like this year. I'll let the 5-12 games go for now but the less games there as well, the better. I will always approve the 6/11 game being power vs. mid-major. And all that I'm really asking is to move teams by one seed. If there is really that much of a difference from a 9-seed to a 10-seed, then by all means keep putting the mid-majors against each other, which proves nothing.

But that's just me, I'm crazy. I'm crazy because I hate the BCS and want the little guys to get their shot. I'm crazy because I hate Duke and would consider their loss to VCU a few years back as one of my favorite 1st round games of all-time. Not because Duke lost, okay, not just because Duke lost, but because it was a fantastic game with a great finish. And a mid-major got the better of a power team. That will never get old to me.

And niether will Duke losing for that matter.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 15, 2010 12:44 pm

NCAA Tourney - Burst Bubbles and Biggest Gripes

It seems every year the NCAA Tournament Committee has to make a few tough decisions a leave a few bubble teams on the outside looking in. Every year it seems that teams and fans complain that their teams should have gotten in over this team and so on and so forth. But this year, it easier to make a case for the top teams left out of the tournament to be on the outside, than it is to have them dancing.


URI/UAB/Memphis - At the end of the day, there wasn't enough room for some more of the little guys. Mid-major teams got 8 at-large bids and there wasn't enough room for the 4th A-10 team or a third C-USA team.

Illinois - Illini fans are probably unhappy that Minnesota made it ahead of them in the NCAAs. They're from the same conference, and the Illini did make a better showing in the Big Ten tournament against Ohio State. But Minnesota beat Illinois head-to-head at Illinois in the regular season and did make the conference tourney finals after beating a lackluster Purdue team sans-Robbie Hummel.

Arizona St. - The Pac-10 wasn't getting more than two teams into the NCAA at most. Washington played their way in over the Sun Devils by winning the Pac-10 tournament and relegating regular season champ Cal to an at-large bid. ASU got bounced in the quarter finals by Stanford, ending any chance for a third Pac-10 team to make the dance.

VA Tech - I saw somewhere that the Hokies non-conf. RPI was 339th. There are only about 350 Division I teams in the NCAA. VA Tech's best non-conf. games included a loss to Temple on the road and games against Georgia, Iowa and Seton Hall, not exactly murder's row of "BCS" conf. teams.

Mississippi St. - Here's a little known rule - If you lose to a MAAC team (other than Siena) at home, you can't make the NCAA tournament. And it doesn't help that you play in the SEC West, which got a total of 0 NCAA tournament teams to my knowledge. Yes, that season opening loss to Rider came back to haunt you. If the Broncs aren't going dancing, then neither are you.


Kansas - The number one overall seed usually means the easiest overall bracket right? Tell that to the Jayhawks, who have a ton of big name teams in their bracket from seeds 2-6 in Ohio St., G-Town, Maryland, Mich. St., and Tennessee.

Kansas St. - Not only can they not beat their arch-rivals, but they are also in the same pod (Oklahoma City) as Kansas. Meaning that a lot of bored Kansas fans could get their hands on some tickets and make a very hostile environment for K-State.

Syracuse - Can't play in the East Region because they're hosting it, fine. Duke jumped them for the "3rd" number one seed, don't like it, but fine. But Gonzaga in the 2nd round? Potential Elite 8 game against homestanding BYU? Seems a bit much, even for a team that struggled down the stretch in the best basketball conference in the country.

Gonzaga - So they lose the WCC championship to St. Mary's and get placed as an 8 seed? Really? Move ND or Marquette out of one of their 6 spots and give the Zags a fair seed for once. I know they're hard to seed, but they're the best program in a non-power conference in the country, give them so respect. Have fun with Syracuse at home in the 2nd round.

Temple/Butler - Is there an NCAA rule that forbids mid-majors from being as high as four seeds? Aside from New Mexico's stellar season, the other top 15 seeds are power conf. teams. If you're going to put them as five seeds, at least don't give them two other mid-majors to play against. And definitely don't give them two good ones in Cornell and Utah St. respectively in the first round.

C-USA - They got two teams in, and probably deservedly so. But to relegate UTEP, a ranked team to a 12 seed and give Houston a 13 isn't good for a conference that I still think has respect in the NCAA. How about at least a 9/10 seed for UTEP and bounce Florida State.

Winthrop - This is a team that has won an NCAA tournament game in the past few years, and they get relegated to the play-in game? I'm sorry, but that's not fair. Move E. Tenn. St. to that game and give the Eagles a 15 seed somewhere.


Duke - Admittedly, I don't miss an opportunity to pile on Coack K and the Blue Devils. But this is almost too easy. Duke should be grinning like they just swiped a cookie from under Mom's nose. They have the easiest path to the Elite 8, in which the hardes team they have to play is Louisville. There's a good chance they could play Siena in the Sweet 16. And Nova, ND and Baylor are going to beat the snots out of each other before playing Duke in the Elite 8. And they get a neutral crowd in Houston rather than a hostile one at Syracuse.

I'll have an entry on over and under seeded teams later in the week and maybe an entry on my ongoing gripe against the NCAA and how they continue to match mid-majors with each other in the first round. Three days away from the greatest four days in sports.
Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com